Michael Parkhurst
Nathaniel Smallwood

REWIND: Breaking down Parkhurst's goalline block

Saturday's match at D.C. United will be remembered for Steve Clark's penalty save in stoppage time, but Columbus might never have been in position for Clark to earn a point with that stop had Michael Parkhurst not made a crucial goalline block about 90 minutes earlier.

In the fourth minute of play, the Crew Captain, starting at rightback for the first time in 2014, made an incredible read on a cross and shot by the Black-and-Red.

Here, Parkhurst is playing out wide in the rightback spot (circled in yellow) moments before Fabian Espindola, on the ball, drives to the goalline.

Cristian (indicated in red) makes a run behind Parkhurst. This screenshot is taken moments before Espindola plays the ball. Parkhurst has a split second to react to both the run and the direction of Espindola's ball. He darts in behind the run, reading and reacting to the play, likely anticipating that the cross will go toward the open man, Cristian.

The ball comes in and meets the head of a trailing D.C. player, Steve Birnbaum, right as Parkhurst turns around. The Crew Captain, who read the run of Cristian (the D.C. United player immediately near Parkhurst) to assume this position, now has to change gears and react to Birnbaum in the blink of an eye. Naturally, he holds firm to his position in space, rather than drifting toward Cristian, and clears this ball right off the line, saving a goal for the Crew.

This is the type of reaction play that makes Parkhurst so good at what he does. His intelligence has benefitted the Crew all season long; this is just one of many examples.

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